New Delhi: India and Pakistan delegations held the second round of talks to finalise modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues at Wagah border on Sunday.
More than 20 Pakistani officials are taking part in the meeting, which is headed by Dr Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ahead of the meet hoping for a productive discussion, Dr Mohammad Faisal, Spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, at Wagah (Pakistan) said, “Pakistan is fully committed and cooperating to operationalise Kartarpur Corridor. More than 70 per cent of Gurdwara’s construction work is completed.”
The Indian delegation is led by SCL Das, Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in Ministry of Home Affairs and Deepak Mittal, Joint Secretary (PAI–Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) in Ministry of External Affairs.
Sources said that a powerpoint presentation will be given by the Pakistan side to the Indian delegation.
Government sources in New Delhi said that India is looking forward to the upcoming talks with Pakistan and will take up a number of key issues, including infrastructure, pilgrims’ movement, and safety.
One of the main points expected to be raised in the discussion would be India’s demand for the construction of a bridge by Pakistan in the creek area. India has also raised concerns regarding the possible flooding of Dera Baba Nanak due to the construction of an embankment-filled road on the Pakistani side.
While India has already been building a bridge on its side to provide all-weather connectivity for the Kartarpur corridor, it has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on their side as it would provide safe and secure movement of the pilgrims while also addressing concerns over flooding.
The other key issues on the table would be the number of pilgrims allowed to access the corridor, safe and unhindered movement of pilgrims throughout the year, whether they would travel as individuals or groups, and whether they would travel by transport or foot.
Previously, the two countries were slated to meet on April 2 in Pakistan for the second round of talks, which was postponed after reports surfaced about the appointment of “controversial elements” by Pakistan in a committee associated with the corridor.
India will spend Rs 500 crore to build the corridor. The money would be spent, among other things, on installing a high tech security and surveillance system to ensure the safety of pilgrims and creating an all-weather facility to cater to 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and 5000 pilgrims on a daily basis.
Just a day ahead of the talks, Pakistan reconstituted its Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) list, thereby dropping Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla from the list, after India had raised concerns earlier.
The Kartarpur route along the India-Pakistan border is three kilometres away from Gurdaspur in Punjab. Once opened, it would allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan, where Guru Nanak Dev died in 1539.
Sources said that the work on the corridor is expected to be completed by October 31, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The second round of talks on the corridor was announced after the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The first round was held on March 14 on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border, during which issues like finalisation of the draft agreement between the two countries were discussed.